Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Orphans of the storm

The bookstore of heaven was even more fluffy clouds 'n cherubs than usual yesterday. This time I think I actually heard a couple of trumpet fanfares & harp glissandos. I was in the back doing mailorders, conserving tape and reusing packaging cardboard like the faithful employee that I am, when I heard some nervous rustling on yonder side of the saloon-type doors. I look up and there is Don Who Works In The Front, he of the icy frown and blinkless stare that sizes up mainstreamish customers and implicitly snarks, "Wouldn't you really be happier at a Barnes & Noble?" Dude is formidable, spectral--like Dick Cheney or a funnel cloud on the horizon. But he's standing there, and I'm meeting his gaze with knocking knees, enjoying my last few moments of life before the evisceration that is sure to come, when all that comes out of his mouth is, "Hey, do you have any music videos?" I am like, "Guhwha?" And in return he confides, "Because I have all of these Siouxsie & the Banshees videos, and I could copy them for you."

So this dude and I, this scary, inscrutable Cheney tornado et moi, we have an intense fanfession for a good half an hour in the back of the store. We talk Circle Jerks and Nina Hagen, the Velvets and Veruca Salt, the Turf Club and Hammersmith Palais and stalking Puffy AmiYumi in alleys. I am ready for Johnny Thunders, but when he hand grenades Tracy + the Plastics I am blindsided, gaping fish-mouthed as he explains, "I'm so bored with boy bands, all I really listen to now are girls." I knew this place was punk rock; I just didn't know it was running a distro from my heart.

Donna Gaines knows what's going on here, this joy of stumbling across a subcultural sibling in yr midst. We are a family, a tribe of misfits and shut-ins united only by the strange creed that music is the answer. When she speaks in a preacher's tones of fandom as religion, that is no metaphor she is swinging, but the stained glass window truth.

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